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This recipe for a little cake enjoyed at tea or on festive occasions is based on Hannah Glasse’s version. Traditionally, queen cakes were baked in “little fluted tin moulds in fancy shapes,” but mini-muffin pans lined with paper baking cups are more often used today. The origin of this confection’s name is unknown. 

This recipe is a modern adaptation of the 18th-century original. It was created by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.


  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup currants
  • Sanding sugar for sprinkling


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease five 12-cup mini-muffin pans with vegetable shortening.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or in a large bowl whisking by hand, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Pour into a separate bowl, and set aside. Put the egg yolks in the same bowl, and whip or whisk by hand until light and frothy. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating in each addition thoroughly before adding the next one. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the whipped egg whites, blending thoroughly. Beat in the egg yolks until well combined.

4. Sift the flour with the nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Gradually add the remainder to the creamed mixture, blending in each addition well before adding the next one.

5. Add the reserved 2 tablespoons of spiced flour to the currants and mix. Gently fold into the batter until well combined.

6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the tops with sanding sugar.

7. Bake the cakes for 12 to 14 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in their centers comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly touched. Set the cakes on wire racks for 5 to 6 minutes before carefully removing them from the pans to cool thoroughly.

Makes 5 dozen cakes